Exam Bulletin - Forestry Fire Pilot (1046)

Department of Forestry & Fire Protection

Exam Code: EX-1928

Examination Plans Included:


Final Filing Date: 6/25/2024

Classification Details

FORESTRY FIRE PILOT: $6,628.00 - $8,747.00 per Month

View the FORESTRY FIRE PILOT classification specification.

Application Instructions

Final Filing Date: 6/25/2024.

Examination/Employment Application (STD 678) must be received or postmarked by the filing date indicated above. Applications postmarked, personally delivered or received via interoffice mail after the filing date will not be accepted.

Dates printed on Mobile Bar Codes, such as the Quick Response (QR) Codes available at the USPS, are not considered Postmark dates for the purpose of determining timely filing of an application.

If using the United States Postal Service (USPS) for delivery, there is no guarantee that your application will be postmarked and arrive by the final filing date. If your application does not have a postmark and arrives after the final filing date, your application may not be accepted into the examination. Therefore, to ensure timely delivery of your application, it is recommended that you use either parcel service, or certified mail. Using one of these options will provide proof the application was sent prior to the final filing date.

Who Should Apply:

The information below will help you determine which classification(s) is(are) appropriate for you. Applicants must meet the Minimum Qualifications as stated on this bulletin to compete in this examination.

Open and Open, Non-Promotional Examination(s):


All applicants must meet the education and/or experience requirements by the final filing date of June 25, 2024, unless otherwise noted.

  • Once you have participated in this examination, you may not test again for six (6) months.
  • Applicants who have not passed probation in this classification are encouraged to apply.

How To Apply:

Submit an Examination/Employment Application (STD 678) to apply for this examination.

Electronic applications can be submitted through your account at www.CalCareers.ca.gov.

You may apply by mail to:

  • Department of Forestry & Fire Protection (CAL FIRE)
    Attention: Examination Unit
    710 Riverpoint Ct
    West Sacramento, CA 95605

Indicate the Examination Code and Classification(s) on your Examination/Employment Application (STD 678).

You may drop off your application and any applicable or required documents at:

  • Department of Forestry & Fire Protection (CAL FIRE)
    Attention: Examination Unit
    710 Riverpoint Ct
    West Sacramento, CA 95605
    8:30 AM - 4:30 PM

Indicate the Examination Code and Classification(s) on your Examination/Employment Application (STD 678). All applicants must provide proof of identification. Accepted forms of identification are: 1) a photo identification card or 2) two forms of signed identification.

Please note the following:

1.) A State Application (STD 678) is REQUIRED and must be submitted.

2.) All applicants must include "from" and "to" employment dates (month/day/year), time base, and applicable civil service class titles on their STD 678. Applications received without this information may be rejected.

3.) Pilot in Command Flight Hours Supplemental Questionnaire is REQUIRED and must be submitted. Please copy and paste this URL into your web browser to access this form: EA277CD67D0A4275B2838C0771462365 (ca.gov) 

Special Testing Arrangements:

If you require assistance or alternative testing arrangements due to a disability, indicate on your application that you need reasonable accommodation. You will be contacted by a representative of the testing department to make the necessary arrangements. If you have not been contacted by the time you receive notification of testing, please contact the testing department listed in the Contact section of this bulletin.

If you are unable to submit your application or complete the test due to a disability, please contact the testing department listed in the Contact section of this bulletin.

Minimum Qualifications

All applicants must meet the education and/or experience requirements as stated on this exam bulletin to be accepted to the examination.


Licenses: Possession of a valid Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) Commercial Airman Certificate with rotorcraft-helicopter rating or a valid FAA Airline Transport Pilot's Certificate with a rotorcraft- helicopter rating.


Possession of a valid and current Class II Airman's Medical Certificate issued by an FAA authorized medical examiner.


Possession of a valid driver license of the appropriate class issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles. Applicants who do not possess this license will be admitted to the examination but must secure the license prior to appointment.


Experience: Applicants must have logged at least 2,000 hours of pilot-in-command flying helicopters, which must include the following:

1. At least 500 hours of mountain pilot-in-command helicopter flight time, routinely making landings in mountainous terrain above 4,000 feet MSL. 

2. At least 500 hours of turbine helicopter time as pilot-in- command.

3. Two hundred and fifty hours as pilot-in-command of helicopters performing low level missions in fire control, map survey, powerline patrol, search and rescue, and spray or seeding operations over mountain or forested or comparable military operations.

4. At least 100 hours as pilot-in-command in helicopters carrying sling loads.

5. At least 50 hours as pilot-in-command in helicopters in the past year.

Position Description


Under general direction, throughout the State, to pilot a helicopter over all types of terrain; to assist in all aspects of fire prevention, suppression, and vegetation management; to perform required preventative maintenance on helicopters; and to do other related work. 


Pilot a helicopter in single pilot operation over all types of terrain in aerial firefighting, hauling firefighters and inmates to and from fires, hauling cargo, both internal and external, and dropping water and retardant on fires from helicopter-carried water buckets or tanks; flying routine and emergency missions such as search and rescue, medivacs, reconnaissance, law enforcement, serial photography, and administrative flights; support prescribed burning projects by hauling various serial ignition devices to ignite prescribed fires; be responsible for the safe and efficient operation of the helicopter; perform preventive maintenance plus limited inspections and maintenance on helicopters while under the direction of a licensed aircraft mechanic; act as air operations officer on occasions, which would include special projects, training, and inspecting rental aircraft pilots, plus other aviation management tasks; and perform other duties assigned.


Keenness of observation, mental alertness, tact, and good physical condition.

Forest-firefighting experience with helicopters is desirable.

Examination Information

This examination consists of the following component(s):

Component OrderComponent TypeComponent DuePercentage of Final Score

A final score of 70% must be attained to be placed on the eligible list.


In this type of exam candidates will be asked pre-determined, job-related questions by a two or three-person panel and rated against pre-determined benchmarks. Candidates will be provided with scratch paper and a pencil.

It is anticipated that interviews will be held in August/September 2024.


In addition to evaluating the applicant's relative knowledge, skill and ability as demonstrated by quality and breadth of education/experience, emphasis in each test component will be on measuring competitively, relative to job demands, each applicant's:

Knowledge of:

  1. Low-level tactical flying in hazardous terrain (e.g., confined areas, pinnacles, mountains) to suppress fires, conduct reconnaissance, search and rescue, and external load operations.
  2. Helicopter performance and limitations in all environments (e.g., high altitude, maximum gross weight, high temperatures) to operate the aircraft efficiently and safely.
  3. Federal Aviation Regulations at a commercial pilot level as they relate to flight operations to safely and legally operate in the national airspace environment.
  4. Helicopter systems and related emergency procedures required to respond to a system failure or an in-flight emergency.
  5. Off-airport operations (e.g., unimproved landing areas, slopes, hazards) to safely deliver crews, supplies, and equipment.
  6. Pre-mission planning requirements (e.g., CAL FIRE duty time, controlled airspace, fuel requirements, Notice to Air Missions [NOTAMs], Temporary Flight Restrictions [TFRs]) to facilitate safe air operations.
  7. Crew Resource Management (CRM) to safely conduct flight operations.
  8. Aeronautical principals (e.g., aerodynamics, weight and balance) at the commercial pilot level to conduct safe flight operations.
  9. Fire suppression strategy and tactics as they pertain to wild land fire behavior and influencing factors (e.g., Fire Traffic Area [FTA], fuel models, weather conditions, terrain) to mitigate fire advancement as defined in Department policies and procedures.
  10. Proper radio procedures to convey accurate and pertinent information.
  11. Crew resource management concepts (e.g., interpersonal communication, leadership, decision making) and procedures to improve flight safety and efficiency.
  12. Basic instrument flight procedures to reduce the risk inherent to Inadvertent Instrument Meteorological Conditions.
  13. Navigation and radio communication systems (e.g., Global Positioning System, FM radios) for safe and effective in-flight navigation and communication.
  14. Local and area weather patterns, trends, and terrain influencing factors (e.g., density altitude, turbulence, wind, aviation weather reporting services) to conduct safe flight operations.
  15. And understanding of helicopter systems (e.g., electrical systems, hydraulics, turbine engines) to safely operate the aircraft.
  16. The structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar to effectively convey information.
  17. Aeromedical factors (e.g., physiological, physical, mental status) to conduct safe flight operations.
  18. Helicopter operating and maintenance procedures (e.g., maintenance inspections, daily airworthiness directives, engine wash procedures) to operate the aircraft safely as required in the Federal Aviation Regulations, helicopter operator’s manual, and/or Department policies and procedures.
  19. Electronic media and devices (e.g., Microsoft Office Suite, Foreflight, automated flight following) to fulfill administrative and flight duties.


Skill to:

  1. Perform emergency procedures (e.g., engine failure, stuck pedal, hydraulic failure) to mitigate injury or death to personnel and damage to aircraft.
  2. Safely operate a helicopter at maximum gross weight in challenging conditions (e.g., high density altitude, winds, terrain) to support all-risk missions.
  3. Perform technical maneuvers (e.g., hover steps, air rescue, aerial firing operations, pinnacle, confined area operations) in adverse wind conditions and mountainous terrain to effectively operate the aircraft.
  4. Safely operate a helicopter using all known devices and equipment associated with helicopter forestry firefighting while conducting Department missions to make correct and sound decisions.
  5. Perform low-level flight to support reconnaissance missions (e.g., mapping, assessing fire status, firing operations).
  6. Operate in the fire environment (e.g., Interagency Practical Test Standards [IPTS], Federal Aviation Administration Commercial Pilot Practical Test Standards [PTS]) to effectively achieve the Department’s mission.
  7. Operate the helicopter while utilizing multiple radios to communicate and coordinate with other aircraft and ground personnel.
  8. Perform night flying operations to safely control a helicopter.


Ability to:

  1. Weigh risk versus gain to decline flight operations that have unacceptable risk levels.
  2. Safely operate a helicopter under high-stress and dynamic conditions (e.g., limited visibility, extended duty days, high temperatures, congested and controlled air spaces) to achieve the Department’s mission.
  3. Use Crew Resource Management in the Fire Traffic Area to identify possible conflicts and/or to increase situational awareness.
  4. Identify, assess, mitigate, and manage mission risk to enhance overall safety.
  5. Safely operate a helicopter over a full spectrum of surfaces (e.g., mountains, water, heavily wooded areas) and environmental conditions to achieve the Department’s mission.
  6. Use good decision-making processes and sound reasoning to maintain situational awareness.
  7. Recognize and be aware of personal limitations (e.g., human factors, aeromedical, physiological) to ensure individual safe performance.
  8. Operate in the fire environment (e.g., Interagency Practical Test Standards [IPTS], Federal Aviation Administration Commercial Pilot Practical Test Standards [PTS]) to effectively achieve the Department’s mission.

  9. Understand and comply with Federal Aviation Regulations and Department policies and procedures to facilitate safe flight operations.

  10. Fly external loads to transport water, supplies, equipment, and individuals, as applicable.

  11. Cooperate (e.g., communicate, interact, resolve conflicts) with others in all situations to accomplish the Department’s mission.

  12. Operate autonomously to perform job duties in complex situations with little or no input from others during the decision-making process.

  13. Read, write, speak, and comprehend English to accomplish daily tasks.

  14. Utilize maps (e.g., aeronautical, incident), extrapolate coordinates, and identify terrain features as they apply to pilot navigation and providing ground resource guidance to ensure safe flight operations.

  15. Direct personnel (e.g., ground crew, flight crews, helitack crews) in dynamic and dangerous conditions to enhance safety.

  16. Adapt to a mission profile and equipment changes within the Department to meet the needs of an evolving aviation program.

  17. Communicate effectively using aviation and fire terminology to ensure safe flight operations.

  18. Utilize electronic media and devices (e.g., Microsoft Office Suite, Foreflight, automated flight following) to fulfill administrative and flight duties.

  19. Follow correct administrative and operational chain of command in accordance with Department policies and procedures.

Eligible List Information

A Departmental Open eligible list for the FORESTRY FIRE PILOT Classification will be established for:

  • Department of Forestry & Fire Protection

The list(s) will be abolished 12 months after being established, unless the needs of the State and conditions of the list(s) warrant a change in this period.

Resulting Eligibility List(s) will be used to fill vacancies throughout the State of California.

PLEASE NOTE: The existing eligibility list will be abolished. All candidates that wish to have list eligibility in this classification MUST apply to take the examination. 

Veterans' Preference will be granted for this examination. Veterans' Preference is an assistance program for veterans, veteran widows and widowers, and spouses of 100% disabled veterans who seek employment with the state. Veterans' Preference is also extended to currently serving military members nearing their retirement or separation date.

You are not eligible for Veteran's Preference if you are:

  • A veteran who has been dishonorably discharged or released.
  • A veteran, widow or widower of a veteran, or spouse of a 100 percent disabled veteran who currently has permanent civil service status. (Permanent civil service status is the status of an employee who is lawfully retained in his/her position after completion of the applicable probationary period. This does not include limited term).

Veterans' Preference is codified in Government Code Sections 18973 – 18979.

Veteran status is verified by the California Department of Human Resources (CalHR). Directions to apply for Veterans' Preference are on the Veterans' Preference Application (Std. Form 1093), which is available at www.CalCareers.ca.gov, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Career Credits are not granted for examination(s) administered on an Open basis or a Promotional basis.

Testing Departments

  • Department of Forestry & Fire Protection

Contact Information

Questions regarding this examination should be directed to:

CAL FIRE Examination Unit
710 Riverpoint Ct.
West Sacramento, CA 95605
Phone: (916) 894-9580

CAL FIRE Reasonable Accommodation Coordinator
710 Riverpoint Ct.
West Sacramento, CA 95605
Phone: (916) 894-9570 ext. Option 3

California Relay Service: 1-800-735-2929 (TTY), 1-800-735-2922 (Voice). TTY is a Telecommunications Device for the Deaf, and is reachable only from phones equipped with a TTY Device.

Equal Opportunity Employer

The State of California is an equal opportunity employer to all, regardless of age, ancestry, color, disability (mental and physical), exercising the right to family care and medical leave, gender, gender expression, gender identity, genetic information, marital status, medical condition, military or veteran status, national origin, political affiliation, race, religious creed, sex (includes pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding and related medical conditions), and sexual orientation.

Drug Free Statement

It is an objective of the State of California to achieve a drug-free State work place. Any applicant for State employment will be expected to behave in accordance with this objective, because the use of illegal drugs is inconsistent with the law of the State, the rules governing civil service, and the special trust placed in public servants.

General Information

Examination and/or Employment Application (STD 678) forms are available at the California Department of Human Resources, local offices of the Employment Development Department, and through your CalCareer Account (www.CalCareers.ca.gov).

If you meet the requirements stated on this examination bulletin, you may take this examination, which is competitive. Possession of the entrance requirements does not assure a place on the eligible list. Your performance in the examination described in this bulletin will be rated against a predetermined job-related rating, and all applicants who pass will be ranked according to their scores.

Department of Forestry & Fire Protection reserves the right to revise the examination plan to better meet the needs of the service, if the circumstances under which this examination was planned change. Such revision will be in accordance with civil service laws and rules and all applicants will be notified.

General Qualifications: Applicants must possess essential personal qualifications including integrity, initiative, dependability, good judgment, the ability to work cooperatively with others, and a state of health consistent with the ability to perform the assigned duties of the class. A medical examination may be required. In open examinations, investigation may be made of employment records and personal history and fingerprinting may be required.

Eligible Lists: Eligible lists established by competitive examination, regardless of date, must be used in the following order: 1) sub-divisional promotional, 2) departmental promotional, 3) multi-departmental promotional, 4) service-wide promotional, 5) departmental open, 6) open. When there are two lists of the same kind, the older must be used first. Eligible lists will expire in one to four years unless otherwise stated on the bulletin.

High School Equivalence: Equivalence to completion of the 12th grade may be demonstrated in any one of the following ways: 1) passing the General Education Development (GED) Test; 2) completion of 12 semester units of college-level work; 3) certification from the State Department of Education, a local school board, or high school authorities that the competitor is considered to have education equivalent to graduation from high school; or 4) for clerical and accounting classes, substitution of business college work in place of high school on a year-for-year basis.

Accepted applicants must provide proof of identification at each in-person test session. Acceptable identification consists of a photo identification card or two forms of signed identification.

Application Methods:
Electronic (Your CalCareer Account)
By Mail
In Person (see bulletin for details)
Alternate Application Process

While we recommend that you utilize your CalCareer Account to take advantage of all the tools available, you may choose to apply for this examination without using your account. In this case, print and complete the Exam Application Package Checklist and include it if you submit a hard copy application.

Exam Application Package Checklist

Blank Application Form (STD678)

Accommodation Request (STD679)